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Published Tuesday 25 Aug 2020

Capital & Coast DHB and the Mental Health, Addictions & Intellectual Disability Service (MHAIDS) today welcomed the Chief Ombudsman’s OPCAT report into five mental health units around the country.

The DHB and MHAIDS acknowledged the Ombudsman’s findings in regards to their unit – Te Whare o Matairangi (TWOM) – and also provided clarity on a number of issues outlined in the report.

“TWOM has 30 bedrooms – plus two additional rooms which are able to be used for seclusion or sensory modulation when absolutely necessary,” said MHAIDS general manager Nigel Fairley.

“During periods of high occupancy, these rooms can be used in a non-restrictive way to accommodate and support clients appropriately and safely to prevent time spent in a less safe environment – such as an ED or uncontained community setting.

“We also recognise that work is needed to address TWOM’s high occupancy, while also understanding that high occupancy is a national – rather than regional – issue indicative of increasing demand on acute mental health services across the country.

TWOM’s design ensures clients are appropriately accommodated at all times. Clinical staff undertake a comprehensive risk assessment to ensure clients can be cared for. Staff then support clients in clinical and non-clinical areas specifically-designed to support clinical care.

“It should also be clarified that additional security staff have not been engaged to increase staff ratios but, rather to provide a sense of security for unit staff and clients. These roles are guided by a clear role description setting out expectations and requirements.”

MHAIDS has made significant progress on implementing the Ombudsman’s previous recommendations – including ensuring safe staffing levels and mix of disciplines, ongoing staff training and upskilling, and providing appropriate access to a phone.

MHAIDS also acknowledges challenging factors that have affected other recommendations – such as pressure from nationally-increasing demand on mental health services and ongoing discussions around whether, or how best to, implement a recommendation to the greatest effect.

“MHAIDS works hard to strike a balance between supporting and treating clients with complex conditions, while ensuring the safety and protection of other vulnerable clients and staff.

We welcome the recommendations, and a significant amount of work is underway to address the issues identified. We thank the Chief Ombudsman for his recommendations and remain committed to improving outcomes for our clients.”

Media contact: Chas Te Runa – 027 230 9571